. How HP Malaysia rewrote the digital events playbook | Meetings & Conventions Asia

How HP Malaysia rewrote the digital events playbook

The tech giant combined gamification, AR and 3D animation to boost engagement for its recent partner event.

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HP Malaysia unveiled new products and services in fresh ways, while integrating augmented reality (AR) and gamification to keep virtual attendees entertained. Photo Credit:HP Malaysia

Global lockdowns may still be in place, but connecting with key stakeholders must go on — which is exactly what HP Malaysia endeavoured to do during its 2020 annual product launch and partner event ‘Creators of Tomorrow’.

Brand experience agency, Pico Global, was brought in to deliver the event, with a brief that demanded personalisation and out-of-the-box thinking. HP Malaysia used the 14 October online event to deliver partner-focused messages from top executives, including business director Alex Tan, and to unveil new products and services in fresh ways, while integrating augmented reality (AR) and gamification to keep virtual attendees entertained. 

"The HP Malaysia team has worked tirelessly to put together this fantastic and exciting virtual experience that will bring your creativity to life," said Vivian Chua, vice president and head of Malaysia & Singapore for HP Inc.

Pivoting the annual event from a physical to digital format, required Pico's planning team to jump through a few hurdles. This included transcending international boundaries, nailing a product showcase to media who were unable to physically touch or experience the gadgets, and executing an awards ceremony for more than 50 awardees — all in a single day. 

With increasing reports of ‘Zoom fatigue’ and struggles to keep engagement levels up, especially for longer events, AR, gamification and 3D animation were employed to connect the audience to the brand. 

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During the live webcast, the audience activated AR effects by scanning an HP logo with their mobile phones, which instantly revealed new product names and photos.

Creative ideas 

The morning started off with a virtual press conference live streamed on YouTube, followed by the partner event, which was broadcast via a customised Vimeo platform. HP Malaysia pre-recorded as much content as possible in studios in Singapore and Malaysia — this included welcome addresses, new product launches and walk throughs, and an immersive awards ceremony for partners. 

At the morning conference, attendees were treated to four virtual stage sets — dubbed ‘Soho’, ‘Lifestyle’, ‘Gaming’ and ‘Creative Studio’ — complementing different speakers while simultaneously segregating the product types. Since it was impossible to personally touch the gadgets and see their functions, Pico did away with the traditional video, instead using AR technology fused with gamified elements — a first for the brand. 

So how did it work? During the live webcast, the emcee invited media to trigger the AR effects by scanning an HP logo with their mobile phones, which instantly revealed product names and photos. Additionally, viewers tuning in to the live stream were encouraged to take a screenshot of the AR experience and share it via social media for a chance to win a prize. Lucky draws were also woven into the experience to maintain engagement momentum.

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Pico had previously experimented with 3D avatar animation for another client, but doing so for an online awards ceremony was new territory.

After viewing the AR product launch, more than 50 partners were also expecting to receive awards — but none of them saw the surprise coming their way, as each of them was 'transformed' into a 3D avatar.

Pico had previously experimented with 3D avatar animation for another client, but doing so for an online awards ceremony was new territory. To build the avatars, the team “visited the winner’s Facebook page, downloaded images to capture physical characteristics, and used that data to remotely create hyper-realistic avatars," explained Tay Ling, general manager at TBA Hong Kong (a Pico Group company). "This allowed [HP’s partners] to go through the virtual ‘blue carpet’ without revealing the secret or winner,” he said. 

At the ceremony, the winners were ‘suited up’ as robots dashing down a high-tech corridor to the future. Videos of the animation were later sent to winners to share on social media, further increasing the brand’s exposure.

“This provided the event’s surprising ‘wow factor’, and it was also extremely personalised and shareable. It was such out-of-the-box thinking that helped the client to achieve a real 'first-of-its-kind' awards ceremony,” said Ling.

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HP Malaysia received overwhelming responses from the AR Launch Gambit and 3D avatar animation award presentation.

Impressive results 

As a result of Pico’s innovation push, the media event on YouTube garnered over 4,000 views, while HP Malaysia received “overwhelming responses from the AR Launch Gambit and 3D avatar animation award presentation," remarked Jess How, country marketing lead, HP Malaysia. "The event was a truly immersive, high-tech milestone for media and our partners.” 

Said partner Lee Boon Yin from SRKK Computer Sdn Bhd, “We were so impressed with the virtual event and it is our first time ever attending such a different e-award ceremony”.

“As a business partner, being connected with HP is crucial during this pandemic. HP has done it differently, full of excitement and surprises,” added Chong Yew Fatt, CTC Global Sdn Bhd.

Ultimately, Ling believes the key to engagement is empathy.

“We employ empathy right across the experiential journey. Also, by using data to craft insights. This enables us to use technology not as a tool, but as a means to use content to connect consumers to brands. These ideas can apply to the avatar animation and AR launch gambit, and could also be applied with a 360 web VR platform, or even through extended reality for content generation,” he said.

Key Learnings 

• Use different platforms to connect with different audiences
• AR technology allowed users to see products come ‘alive’ on their mobile phones
• Used data and social media to personalise content and create "wow factor" moments online
• Integrate gamification to boost engagement